Music Reading Strategies

Some tips and tricks to practise your sight reading and earn big money from gigs!

Music Reading Strategies
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Reading Music Most guitarists struggle to practise their sight-reading. It's hard to fit into your schedule when there are so many other fun things to play, and so many people have learnt to play using TAB these days... Why bother? Well, it allows you to communicate with other musicians (piano players don't read TAB!) It gives you access to a wealth of great music that is only written down in conventional notation. It also might get you a well-paid gig the highest-paid gigs I've done were all reading gigs. Some tips:
  • Practise reading music with a metronome. ALWAYS. If nothing else, it puts some pressure on you.
  • Keep going! Do not stop if you make a mistake. (If you are constantly making mistakes, the metronome's too fast. You want to practise at a tempo that's challenging but playable.)
  • Practise your reading at the beginning of your session get it out of the way. Aim to do at least 10 minutes each day (consistent, regular practice is the key!)
  • Try practicing in cut time - metronome on 1 & 3 (straight/funk/latin etc) or on 2 & 4 (swing).
  • Some books you could check out: - Howard Roberts' "Sight Reading" book is excellent, though out-of-print... (PDFs available online?) - William Leavitt "Melodic Rhythms" is great for helping you sort out rhythmic problems.
  • Try reading music for other instruments clarinet, flute, violin etc.
  • Write your own exercises wide interval studies with no rhythm; position studies in unfamiliar areas of the guitar; single string studies which you then try on different strings; string-skipping exercises. Most of these can be written very quickly by hand using random notes.
  • Write music in notation whether your own compositions or transcriptions. This is the flip-side of reading music, and will help hugely. For more tips visit www.dylankay.co.nz.
  • 7 comments sorted by best / new / date

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      Nicholas KTwong
      I think practicing sight reading with metronome too.great articles.Ive been through this type of practices and my sight reading skills improve a lot. But I think sight reading the music that suits my level also important so a sight reading book is good because the difficulties of the music increase gradually
      Kromeo
      Yes, but there is a big difference between practising for mastery and practising sight-reading. You should have the basic understanding of where the notes are and when to play them. But, the purpose of sight-reading is to play the piece without having much time to prepare for it. So, what would be beneficial is that you practice playing pieces slowly, but to the end without stopping. After you have done this (its harder that it seems), then you can go back and find what made you mess up. I agree with dumbface12 that these are just tips. A strategy comes with a plan of action. How are you going to tackle the challenges that you face? This article would be better if you could incorporate unique viewpoints on the subject of sightreading. If you wanted to practice for mastery, well there are many lessons on this site. Thats my two cents anyways
      dumbface12
      Don't always practice with a metronome. You should first be able to play what your trying to play without a metronome and then once you have the technique, basic rhythm, and be able to play it cleanly with no (or minimum) mistakes then start to use the metronome at a slow speed and build up until your up to par with the tempo that the piece is in. I read an article that said a really good quote which was, "Speed is a byproduct of playing clean," and this is very true if you make mistakes while practicing you need to go back and fix, performing totally different, but that's why your practicing to fix mistakes and to be able to play it to the best of your ability. And these weren't strategies. Like these were a few tips that won't really help with reading notation. Like a strategy for reading sight-reading notation on guitar would be to look at the key signature, tempo, time signature, chord symbol above each chord, look at highest note so you can see what position is best to play, hum the rhythm. That's just to name a few. This article needs a lot of work to be put into it because unfortunately it's pretty weak.
      rockgodman
      Yea I'm going to go ahead and disagree. If you are learning a piece you're totally right. But if you are talking about sight reading (which is what it seems like this is about because he says make up your own exercises) then you should always play with a metronome. Playing with a metronome is like playing with a drummer, or at least is a good way to simulate playing with other people which if you ever have to sight read is what hopefully you are doing. Also playing the rhythms is half of reading music and playing them without playing them in time is doubling your work because if you read them in time to a metronome you don't have to learn notes and rhythms separately because you have already played them together
      INSULIN
      bad place for this ha ha people use tabs they can't read music.i miss guitar for the practicing musician -had regular sheet music and tab on the songs.i knew how to read music so was great if i wanted to play the song on a keyboard
      gypsyblues7373
      "Guitar for the Practicing Musician" was my favorite mag back in the day. They did so many things better than most guitar rags.